The University of Maroua in the Far North Region of Cameroon has this year, 2017, been admitted into the club of over 250 Universities across the globe that belong to the Federation of Universities of the Islamic world, FUIW.
This is the only University in the whole Central African sub region that is a member of this club. In the whole of West Africa too, made up of some 14 independent nations, only Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria, is a member of FUIW. The federation was founded in Rabat, Morocco in 1987.
Considering the role that higher institutions of learning play as the breeding grounds for the rulers and thinkers of every generation; and taking into account the increasing recognition of the Islamic religion as the crucible from which Islamic extremists are groomed, the empowerment of a union like FUIW could be useful if the world wants Moslem intellectuals to wade into the challenge of rising terrorist led groups across the world.
It is this recent admission of the University of Maroua into the FUIW that led me into deeper investigation about such associations across the world. I found out that this same University also belongs, amongst five other Cameroonian Universities to the Association of Commonwealth Universities, ACU that has over 500 members; and was established way back in 1913.
Again, the University of Maroua also belongs to the Association of African Universities, AAU, a group that was founded in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on November 12, 1967.
My candid opinion is that considering the existence of such platforms where intellectuals of the world could share ideas and exchange views; and in view of the fact that all over the world politicians are dependent on the ideas furnished them by intellectuals in order to lead well, not enough is being done to make these organizations contribute to mitigating the challenges that face humanity, especially the present one of rising terrorism.
Indeed, world leaders are guilty of always treating effects rather than tackling the root causes; as we see with the enormous outcry over mass immigration into Europe, the United States of America and to other parts of the developed world.
According to Dr. Abdu Laziz Othman Altwaijiri, the Secretary General of FUIW and the Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, ISESCO, “higher education plays an important role in addressing comprehensive sustainable development issues, facing the challenges lying ahead, and coming up with suitable solutions.
It is also substantial to the advancement of society, meeting its spiritual and material needs, promoting its cultural, civilisational and human values, and boosting individual knowledge and creative abilities.” This is the view shared by many intellectuals all over the world.
To me, higher education, or informed knowledge generally could also be used in a preemptive manner to prevent the conflicts of interests that are rather polarizing humanity today and exacerbating terrorism and its consequent displacement of huge populations that stand in need of migrating from their home lands.
Again, the FUIW Secretary General e, who is obviously a Moslem, went further to recognize the paramount importance of higher education in the development process, and the necessity for boosting the scientific abilities of their universities to better meet the Islamic countries’ need for suitably qualified human resources to tackle societal challenges.“FUIW also seeks to entrench science and technology in Islamic countries, build science-based societies and boost competences in the fields of scientific research, knowledge integration, curricula development and quality culture dissemination.
When one considers the underlying ideology of Islamic extremists, and their drive to disseminate the tenets of their religious beliefs, one wonders whether ‘quality culture dissemination’ and the extremists’ ideology go hand in glove. One would also question why some of the so called radical Moslem don’t see why education should be open to women too.
Can the world be a better place for all of humanity if only men are allowed to receive Western Education which all universities and other higher institutions of learning offer, with women remaining uneducated as well? Are women not part of humanity?
The Association of Commonwealth Universities has a similar mission: To promote and support excellence in higher education for the benefit of individuals and societies throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. Their vision, they stated is to create vibrant and exciting universities that use their transformational power to: create opportunities for individuals to fulfill their potential; increase understanding through international partnerships – both inside and outside the higher education sector; and to contribute to the cultural, economic, and social development of every nation.
In addition, the ACU strives for excellence in using collective expertise and professionalism to promote the common good. “We listen to our stakeholders to deliver valued services; we promote the sharing of good practice and capacity strengthening, and provide a platform for knowledge generation and exchange. We foster cooperation and partnerships within the sector and across cultures; we enable the exploration of ideas and willingness to think differently.
We give staff the freedom to do their work and develop new ways to deliver our services; we are committed to openness, fairness, integrity, and transparency in all our work and relationships. We share the values and aspirations that unite all the people and nations of the Commonwealth; we are an inclusive organisation, working with and representing a diverse range of individuals, nations, and institutions.
Inclusive thinking is part of our everyday working practices.” These objectives clearly indicate the negation of any attempt by any one or any group to deny any one or any group, on what grounds so ever, the right to education.
Similarly, the Association of African Universities, AAU has as objectives, the promotion of interchange, contact and cooperation among universities and other institutions of higher education in Africa; the collection, classification and dissemination of information on higher education and research, particularly in Africa; the promotion of cooperation among African higher education institutions in curriculum development, post graduate training, research, quality assurance, recognition of qualifications, the determination of equivalence of degrees, and other matters of special policy or practical interest to African higher education; encourage and empower members of the association to address development challenges and become an effective voice in national, regional and global higher education discourse; to study and make known the educational and related needs of African universities and other institutions of higher education and, as far as practicable, co-ordinate the means whereby those needs may be met; to contribute to the improvement of leadership, institutional management and the policy environment of African higher education; and last but not the least, to organize, encourage and support public fora for information dissemination and exchange and policy dialogue on issues of higher education.
Among their laudable objectives, none of these associations has as mission, the promotion of world peace by consciously using intellectuals in the task of eradicating terrorism. May be, terrorism on a global scale as is being carried out by radical Moslems is a new development that came after these intellectual unions were formed. There is therefore a need to make adjustments so that visions and objectives could be enlarged to include more and more challenges that are vexing our generation.
If through teaching, instruction and or schooling the faculties of an individual are developed, and his innate powers liberated either to contribute to building societies or destroying them, then associations of universities across the globe can, by using intellectuals, work more to achieve objectives that foster harmonious living among the peoples of the world.
Arm chair academicians who feel self-satisfied and self-fulfilled simply by heightened scholarly breakthroughs without improving the human situation, so that equity, justice, inclusiveness, tolerance and the well being of humanity as a whole are enhanced, are not good enough for this generation.